Laying comfortably staring at the tent walls. We hear shuffling outside. Eyes red, we haven’t slept. Mangu taps on our tent and says its time, prepare yourselves! What he meant was, get our asses up at 11:30pm and prepare to freeze our bums off in windy 15 degree weather to climb to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Actually, not exactly sure how freezing but it was in the negatives for sure! We looked at each other, smiled and said lets do this!
Were only 5km to the top, how hard can it be right? Well let me tell you now, it was the most mentally phyically challenging thing I have ever done and I encourage everyone that they should put this on the top of their bucket list!
We put layers on top of layers on. I felt like a little warm marshmallow rolling myself out of the tent. The air was crisp, the moon was bright and the stars were glistening. They filled our water bladders as we snacked on a muffin and juice box. Haji did our last medical check before we made the accent. Everything checked out perfect.
We put our headlamps on and started our journey to the roof of Africa, 19,431ft.Other than a little moon light glow, it was pitch black. The only thing we could see was the ground and ankles in front of us. Our pace was literally one foot in front of the other. Some points were half that. It was a gradual climb but the switch backs didn’t make it feel too bad. The altitude is what made it HARD!
I looked up and saw zig zags of headlights up the mountain from several other people quite ahead. It was speachless. The only thing I could hear was my breathing, shuffling of feet and my heart beat. We watched the moon pass over us as we hiked for hours, this was a first for me and it was beautiful.
The fourth hour of hiking is when it hit me. My pace started to slow down, I felt dizzy and my head started to ache. All this with the fact we haven’t slept in over 21 hours played a tole. It was like an out of body experience as if I was half asleep. I focused on my breathing and trying to think about other things/goals like this blog to mask other thoughts. If I tried to go a tiny bit faster my heart would race as if I was running so I slowed down more. Ron gave me his headphones/music which helped A TON to stay focused on the end goal. Haji and Chi-Chi were amazing at keeping us moving. As much as we wanted to take breaks they kept us pushing because the longer we sat the harder it was to get up. They checked our oxygen levels making sure we were okay and we were. Not all companies do this thats why I loved Altezza.
The wind picked up a lot, gusts were pushing me nearly over. Thankfully, all our layers and a rented 600 down North Face coats from Altezza kept us warm. The only thing that froze was our faces. I wish we brought something to cover our face and lips. Ron got a big blister.
We tried to drink water but our bladders were frozen solid. Haji shared his water cantina that turned into slush. I only sipped water because I dreaded having to pee in the freezing cold which I only did once. Somehow Ron didn’t at pee all!
TIP: I would use refillable water bottles and shake often so it won't freeze. Bladders pipes can freeze leaving you no way to drink your water. It happened to us.
Every once in a while I would look behind me, we were well above the peak in the distance. It was an Armageddon glow of beauty you have to be there to experience. This part was making it worth every step. We were less than an hour away from Stella Point. We didn’t make it to the top before sunrise since we had a much slower pace then expected but at this point I didn’t care. My head was pounding, I was so dizzy, feeling as if I was falling sideways. Ron was exhausted but didn’t have a headache at all. We sat down for a break and watched the colors of the sunrise. This picture shows exactly how I felt, lol.Just look how incredible this view was. This shot was take on Rons iPhone. These colors don’t lie.After the quick break we continued. Rons pace was much faster then mine. Chi-chi stayed with me. This part was SO HARD guys! I looked up and saw a sign. I thought it was the top but it wasn’t! It was SELLA POINT! I wanted a photo anyways. Im smiling because I was happy but also so exhausted! They said we had an hour left to go. I wanted to cry! I didn’t want to continue, I was so tried, my head was pounding, my hiking poles kept me up since I was still having the feeling of falling over. I yelled at myself to shut up and just go. I didn’t care how long it was going to take me but I had to do it, we were nearly there! Staring at the glaciers made it a little better. They were beautiful! Heres a shot from when we were walking back since we didn’t stop until we made it. This was our view the rest of the way to the peak.
So many people were already going back down. They cheered, congratulated and said we were almost there!
Once I got a glimpse of the sign I cried. So many mixed emotions hit me at once. Everything we’ve gone though to get to this point was a story in itself and the fact that we actually made it was emotional for me! The first thing I could think of was a kiss from the one who’s right by my side every step of the way, the one who shared many new things most couples will never experience together on this mountain, things I won’t share here, lol.
It took us 7 hours to complete 5km! Crazy right?!
Shout out to Altezzas guides who made it all possible! So grateful for all their encouragement, skills and believing we could achieve it! Even if he had to drag me part of the way, lol!After our photo we sat down for a muffin, chocolate and HOT TEA! My headache was at its worst but knowing we were done climbing was a great feeling!After a short sitting break I took tons of photos! This view made everything so worth it!
Shoutout to our Ahnu and Teva boots for making our hiking experience feel like we were on cloud nine! Not once did we even think about our feet aching, sweating, freezing or blistering! Which to me is the most crucial part of hiking, can’t you agree!?Check out this glacier y’all!
The white ice reflects most of the sun rays. Though, the sandy bottom heats up causing it to melt, creating unstable surfaces making it prone for cracks, holes on the surface, and a lake below.
Its been said these glaciers have gone through eight different ice ages! They began to form 9700BC!
They say by 2040 there will be no glaciers left. A large section is estimated to be gone by 2018! Crazy right?! Capturing history here people! Which is another reason why you gotta get up here and witness this yourself!
They asked if we wanted to go to the crater, it was another hour away. It was our intentions to do so from the beginning. At this point we were both 100% content with what we saw here and were ready to go back down. Now I understand why only 5% go to the crater. Here is what the crater looked like from afar. See the glacier in the distance? That is where the crater is.
We started to head back down. Look at this view!Literally feeling on top of the world.The clouds below looked like a surf wave.
From here it took 2 and a half hours to make it back to the base camp. Big difference right! We took a different route down. It was very sandy. We basically cross country skied with our feet all the way down. My knees were very tired but it was quite fun.
We made it back and everyone congratulated us. Though, we probably didn’t look that excited, we were whipped! It didn’t really register what we just did either. All we could think about was curling up in our warm tent and napping for two hours.
Now for the second hardest thing I have ever done! We woke from our nap, had lunch and hiked another three hours down to Millennium Camp. It was steep, rocky and dewy making parts slippery. My legs were so tired, sore, and all around just exhausted!
We saw a lot of these on the way down. They call them mountain taxi. This is how they bring the injured down the mountain. They use often. I couldn’t imagine!
We made it to our camp, ate and went to bed. At this point we were awake for over 28 hours!
It took us 5 days to reach it to Uhuru Peak, 7 total days on the mountain which means I have officially been able to check off my #1 Bucket List item! Was it worth it, ABSOLUTELY! You may think from reading this, it sounds miserable but it wasn’t. It is something greater than that. The challenge, perseverance, tenacity, struggle and our journey was a life changing experience that I can’t really explain into words. However, I highly encourage you to book your trip with Altezza, do this climb, and come back to me and tell me you feel the same!
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Ascent to uluru peak and decent to millennium Camp
COMPANY: Altezza Climb & Safari
NOTE: 90% of all accidents occur during the desert, including all broken arms and legs. Please pat attention to your feet, as there is a high risk of damaging your toe nails.
CHANGE IN ELEVATION: Barafu Camp (4,640) – Uhuru Peak (5,895m) – Millennium Camp (3,820 m)
HIKING DISTANCE: 15km
HIKING TIME: Barafu camp to Uhuru 7 hours – Baraful to Millennium camp 3-5 hours total- 8-12hours
TIP: Wear several layers (packing guide coming soon), -15 down jacket (we rented), use water bottle instead of bladder to avoid freezing, use face mask to stay warm, lip balm.
EXPECT: Pure exhaustion but also preposterous incredibleness! Hike starts at midnight!